July marks beginning of Thomas Zacharia’s new role as ORNL director

Thomas Zacharia, who built Oak Ridge National Laboratory into a global supercomputing power, has been selected as the laboratory’s next director by UT-Battelle, the partnership that operates ORNL for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The UT-Battelle board conducted an open, competitive search for a new director after Thom Mason announced he would be leaving to join Battelle after 10 years leading ORNL. Among the goals Zacharia outlined if he were chosen as director: leading ORNL to be the world’s premier research institution; building on the lab’s original sense of mission – winning World War II while pushing the boundaries of research – to reshape its creative energy for the future; celebrating a science and technology culture that encourages individuals to be the best in their fields; and pursuing institutional excellence that advances US leadership in neutron science, computing, materials, and nuclear science and engineering.

Thomas Zacharia (Credit: ORNL)

Zacharia’s appointment as director became effective July 1, after Mason was appointed senior vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio.

“Thomas has a compelling vision for the future of ORNL that is directly aligned with the U.S. Department of Energy’s strategic priorities,” said Joe DiPietro, chair of the UT-Battelle Board of Governors and president of the University of Tennessee.

Zacharia came to ORNL in 1987 as a postdoctoral researcher after receiving his Ph.D. in engineering science from Clarkson University in New York. He also holds a master’s in materials science from the University of Mississippi and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India.

When UT-Battelle became ORNL’s management and operating contractor in April 2000, Zacharia was director of the Computer Science and Mathematics Division. In 2001, he was named associate laboratory director for the new Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate, and over the next eight years he built a scientific enterprise that brought more than 500 new staff to Oak Ridge and opened the nation’s largest unclassified scientific computing center, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, a user facility of DOE’s Office of Science.

Zacharia was named ORNL’s deputy for science and technology in 2009, responsible for the lab’s entire research and development portfolio. During his tenure, the lab has strengthened its translational energy programs, establishing the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate and the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate.

In 2012, Zacharia took a leave to serve as executive vice president of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, overseeing research in energy and the environment, information and computing technology, life sciences and biomedical research, and social sciences, as well as leading the country’s science and technology park, which is home to more than 40 multi-national companies including GE, Microsoft and Siemens. He returned to ORNL in 2015, where he previously served as Deputy Lab Director for Science and Technology.

ORNL unveils five entrepreneurs, four companies in inaugural “Innovation Crossroads” cohort

NOTE: This article was originally published on Teknovation.biz by Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer of PYA.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) set a goal of finding up to five of the nation’s top young energy innovators and, by all accounts, it appears the recruiting team has achieved its goal with the inaugural cohort for the “Innovation Crossroads.”

ORNL leaders publicly unveiled the four start-ups at an event yesterday in Oak Ridge attended by the innovators, researchers with whom they will be working, and two top administrators from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Related: New accelerator program “Innovation Crossroads” to advanced energy technology ideas

“If you look five, 10, 15 or 20 years ahead, where is the innovation going to come from to continue our nation’s economic growth,” Mark Johnson, Director of DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, asked. His answer was “programs like this.” Joining Johnson from DOE headquarters was Johanna Wolfson, Director of the Technology-to-Market Program.

In a conversation ahead of the event, Johnson described “Innovation Crossroads” and two similar programs at other DOE labs as a post-doc program. After all, the five innovators have either earned their Ph.Ds. or are in the process of completing them.

For ORNL, yesterday’s announcement was the culmination of a process that began more than six months ago with a solicitation of applications. Day-to-day responsibility for “Innovation Crossroads” is being handled by Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development, and Beth Conerty, Program Lead for Entrepreneurial Support and Development.

As described in this September 20 article from teknovation.biz, the program is part of a DOE effort to help accelerate clean energy technologies in an era of substantially limited venture capital. The ORNL initiative is the third in DOE’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP). The pilot, named “Cyclotron Road,” was tested at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a second program, named “Chain Reaction Innovations,” started last year at Argonne National Laboratory.

Read the full article here.

A deeper glance into Tennessee’s energy employment

The Department of Energy released its 2017 U.S. Energy and Jobs Report giving a more thorough insight into energy employment across the country.

Within Tennessee, the report lists 53,501 Traditional Energy workers statewide. 7,062 of these workers are in the Fuels sector, 34,704 work in the Transmission, Wholesale Distribution, and Storage, and 11,285 workers are employed in Electric Power Generation.

Tennessee has an additional 50,451 jobs in Energy Efficiency and 97,056 in motor vehicles.

Electric Power Generation Employment

Within the Electric Power Generation sector, 11,285 workers are employed in Tennessee with an overwhelming majority being in renewables.

Traditional hydroelectric generation makes up the largest segment with 5,274 jobs, followed by solar at 5,085 jobs.

The report says utilities are responsible for most of the employment in Electric Power Generation with 73.4% of jobs.

Fuels Employment

As for the Fuels sector, there is a total of 7,062 jobs in Tennessee. While petroleum and other fossil fuels represent the largest segment of this employment at 3,332 jobs, alternative fuels such as corn ethanol, woody biomass, and other ethanol sources combined make up 2,013 jobs in the Volunteer state.

Energy Efficiency Employment

The largest number of the 50,451 energy efficiency jobs in Tennessee work in high efficiency HVAC and renewable heating and cooling firms, followed by ENERGY STAR and efficient lighting. Energy efficiency employment is found in the construction industry.

Related: Energy efficiency jobs: Where does Tennessee stand?

Transmission, Distribution and Storage Employment

Out of the 34,704 people employed in the Transmission, Distribution and Storage sector, 6,754 work on the state’s smart grids, 1,008 focus on energy storage, and 6,349 monitor micro grids.

DOE webinar reveals opportunities, challenges in southeast for advancing clean energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a “Regional Energy Technology Innovation” webinar in late September inviting leading research universities to present their findings examining the clean energy technology innovation in their respective regions.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-43-40-pmThe universities held forums earlier this year and each forum was attended by leaders from federal, state, and local governments; industry, DOE national laboratories; academia; and nongovernmental organizations.

The forums highlighted the differences among regions in terms of their energy needs, resources, and vulnerabilities; customer demands, markets and capabilities. A key conclusion of the regional forums is that clean energy solutions must be tailored to meet regional needs.

These forums were held in part of DOE’s “Mission Innovation.” Mission Innovation is a multinational initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation that was announced at the United-Nations climate-change conference in Paris on November 30, 2015.

doeDuring the webinar, six different regions of the U.S. including the mid-atlantic, southwestern, northwestern, northeastern, midwest, and southeastern made presentations and spoke about the key takeaways, opportunities, priorities, challenges and next steps within their regions to achieve the driving force needed for maximum clean energy technology innovation.

The southeastern presentation was done by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The university’s vice chancellor of research and engagement, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, spoke about how the southeast’s area of expertise involved government-university-industry-national lab collaboration as well as rapid innovation and tech to market movement.

Dr. Eighmy said some of the major opportunities for the southeast include supportive state governments and a supportive investment community and innovator ecosystems. The southeast also has a strong industrial influence and their supply chains are beneficial.

According to Dr. Eighmy’s presentation, some of the main priorities and clean energy research and development focus areas for the southeast include advanced manufacturing, integrated grid management, bio-derived fuels and CO2 capture, nuclear energy and sustainable smart communities.

However, one of the greatest challenges the southeast faces in terms of advancing clean energy technology innovation is a need for improved business processes focusing on the speed of connecting industry to science and technology.

As the southeast moves forward, it will direct strategic collaborations tied to regional innovation needs, workforce needs, and especially innovation accelerators and private/foundation investment efforts in the clean energy technology space.

Download Today: Federal Financing Programs for Clean Energy

The Department of Energy has released a free resource guide to U.S. programs that support clean energy projects. The Federal Financing Programs for Clean Energy features ten agencies, including summaries and case studies, that can benefit private sector partners in finding capital for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.37.23 PMFor every program listed, the guide identifies additional contact information to answer questions and provide additional direction.

Now in its third edition, the guide includes financing programs for both domestic and international projects. The guide includes programs from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, State, Transportation and Treasury, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Small Business Administration.

The programs listed within the guide are resources that can support clean energy deployment, and in turn lead to new investment, job creation, and additional benefits that can invigorate communities.

Business owners, homeowners, investors, policymakers, and others can use this guide as a “Yellow Pages” to federal programs. In some situations, the financing programs listed are specifically designed to support energy-related projects. In other cases, however, energy efficiency and clean energy are among many qualifying purposes for the particular financing program.

This guide is a companion to the Database for State Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (DSIRE), which provides state-specific information on incentives and policies to support clean energy and energy efficiency in the United States. More information on DSIRE is available at http://www.dsireusa.org/.

Additional information is available through the U.S. Department of Energy and its Clean Energy Investment Center (CEIC). More information on the DOE financing programs and the CEIC is available at www.energy.gov/finance.

To download the guide, click here.